Many African artists travel overseas to places such as the United States and Europe to expand their careers and, sometimes, to live a better life. Some artists return back to their home countries to with new ideals and a new outlook on other cultures to implement into their own music. Liberian rap artist Christoph the Change uses both West African slang and African American Vernacular English in his 2016 song “Gbanna Man”.
The name of the song itself uses West African slang and is repeated through out the song. The term, Gbanna, is a West African term that simply means marijuana. In West Africa, marijuana is considered taboo by many and others believe the use of it is a western culture thing that African youth is trying to copy. Gbanna is used as a decoy for the actual term.
Christoph uses African American slang in his song alongside the West African slang. In the song, he says:
I ain’t no player baby/
I’m a cool guy/
Chillin’ in the crib/
Me and all my men/
In another verse, he says:
You know I gotta spit it raw/
She say that I should hit it raw/
The use of “ain’t”, “spit”, and “chillin'” are common phrases in African American slang. It can be assumed that Christoph has awareness of western slang and its appropriate usage. In my opinion, the use of both African American Vernacular English and West African slang in “Gbanna Man” emphasizes the taboo of marijuana in West Africa, and how it’s labeled as a part of western culture.
Overall, the song was executed perfectly. I definitely enjoyed the song, and I look forward to hearing more of Christoph the Change’s music.